On-Campus Events


Oct 02 2023
4:00 PM

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful...

Oct 02 2023

The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center...

Oct 05 2023
6:00 PMWege Student Center

Join us for an evening with Ron Yob as he explores the role Coldbrook...

Oct 05 2023
12:00 PM

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful...

Oct 10 2023
12:00 PMAlbertus Magnus Hall of Science

Targeting invasive plant species on our campus is one major component...

Oct 11 2023
2:30 PM

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful...

Oct 12 2023
12:30 PMAlbertus Magnus Hall of Science

“The one who plants trees, knowing that he or she will never...

Oct 23 2023

The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center...

Oct 24 2023
12:00 PM

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful...

Oct 27 2023
12:00 PM

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful...


The Friar’s Challenge
August 21 - September 24, 2023
Can you recycle and compost better than our campus Friars? Aquinas Residence Halls, Theme Houses, and Campus Apartments will compete to beat the Willowbrook waste diversion rate during the Friar’s Challenge. If your residence can recycle and compost more waste than the Friars, you will be treated to a barbeque with Father Bob, as well as the traveling sustainability trophy. (If no residence beats Willowbrook, the building with the highest waste diversion rate wins.) Do you have what it takes? 

RA Sustainability Education Challenge
August 21 - September 24, 2023
RA's across campus are competing alongside the Friar’s Challenge to have the best sustainability program and the winner will receive a Rocketbook Notebook! (Plus some bragging rights.) While a team of RA’s can compete, only one gift package will be awarded to the winner or winning team. Possible education programs include: Build Your Own Recycling Box Event, "Mug-Shot" Program and Bulletin Board, Trash Can Audit Event, etc… The program can be focused on zero waste or any other sustainability-related theme. We encourage you to share pictures of the event to either Instagram (@aq_sustainability) or Twitter (@aqsustains). #aqsustains.

Houseplant Sale
August 29, 2023; 12pm to 1:30pm; Wege Mall
Does your room or apartment need a little greenery? Stop by Wege Mall on Tuesday, August 29th to purchase a houseplant grown right in the Albertus Greenhouse. Not only are houseplants pretty to look at, but they have surprising mental health benefits. Indoor plants have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, sharpen attention, increase happiness, and improve productivity (TIME). All of that for just $2-$5 per plant (although we cannot guarantee mental health benefits). Event organized by the Biology Department, in partnership with the Center for Sustainability. Cash or Venmo accepted. Contact: Jessica Bowen (eimerjes@aquinas.edu).

Hack-A-Thon: Hack Away at Invasive Species
September 21, 2023; 9am to 4pm; Meet at the Front of Albertus Hall
Do what you can, when you can. At this all-day "Hack-A-Thon," volunteers will help remove invasive plant species from AQ’s campus. No commitment or registration is required, and you can hop in and out throughout the day. At the beginning of each hour (10 am, 11 am, etc..), volunteers will assemble at the front of Albertus Hall where you will receive a brief training before removing invasive species in a particular area of campus. Collectively, we need your help to achieve our goal of 100 volunteer hours by the end of the Hack-A-Thon! RSVP requested to eimerjes@aquinas.edu

AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition 
Special Alumni Nomination Period: September 14-17, 2023. Campus Nomination Period: October 2-11; Closed Tree Committee Vote (top 3): October 12-19; Open/Public Vote (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place): October 23-29, 2023
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center are excited to host the 3rd annual AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition. Big or small, any tree can be the winner! This competition celebrates what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs...the trees. Participants will have over a week to nominate their favorite tree using an online form (online form). (Note: The link will not be live until the nomination period begins.) The C-TAC will review all submissions and select the top 3 submissions, based on three criteria: Social Relevance, Personal Relevance, and Ecological Relevance. The public will then have a week to vote and select the winning tree, which will be forever commemorated with a 2023 "Tree of the Year" plaque (link to vote). The submitter of the winning tree will receive a $50 gift card, and the 2nd and 3rd place winners will each receive a $15 gift card. 

Campus Tree Tours
Tour Dates:

  • Tuesday, 9/19- 12pm to 12:45pm
  • Wednesday, 9/27- 4pm to 4:45pm
  • Monday, 10/2- 4pm to 4:45pm
  • Thursday, 10/5 - 12pm to 12:45pm
  • Wednesday, 10/11- 2:30pm to 3:15pm
  • Tuesday, 10/24- 12pm  - 12:45pm
  • Friday, 10/27- 12pm to 12:45pm

All faculty, staff, students, and community members are invited to tour the beautiful trees on campus and see the fall colors in style...by golf cart! During these 45-minute tours, Ryan Wendt will introduce you to over 95 species of trees and share several interesting facts about each tree. Ryan will also cover a brief history of our campus woodlands. These tours are a great way to find a tree to nominate for the AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition. Come learn all about one of the features that make Aquinas the most beautiful campus. RSVP is required to leaftour@aquinas.edu, as each scheduled tour has a maximum attendance of 5 people. Tours will begin outside Campus Safety. Private tours are also available at request by contacting the email above. 

Green Tea Talk: The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and Coldbrook Creek, an Evening with Ron Yob
October 5, 2023; 6pm to 8pm; Wege Ballroom
Join us for an evening with Ron Yob as he explores the role Coldbrook Creek has played both in the lives of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and in his own life.  Ron is an engaging speaker able to bring together many points of interest on the topic.  Attendees can expect to learn about the importance and ecological relevance of Coldbrook Creek to the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians, as well as hear about personal and historical narratives that bring the creek to life. The event is hosted by the Aquinas College Center for Sustainability, Plaster Creek Stewards, and the Coldbrook Creek Community, and we welcome all staff, faculty and students from both Aquinas College and Calvin University, as well as all interested community members.

Additional information: the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians, of which Ron Yob is the Chairman of the Tribal Council, is a native sovereign nation with agreements with the federal government dating back to 1795.  The Grand River bands originally included 19 bands of Ottawa people who lived along the Grand River and other waterways in southwest Michigan.  Part of their mission is to promote and preserve their culture, crafts and traditions by all means including the education of their members and the general public.  Coldbrook Creek is an urban stream that is now predominantly a below-ground urban drain.  However, historically it was above ground and flowed from its headwaters at Reeds Lake to the Grand River just south of present day Leonard Street. Stormwater from both Calvin University and Aquinas College flows into Coldbrook Creek, resulting in a shared responsibility and opportunity to show care for the waters and creatures downstream.

Invasive Species Removal Event
October 10, 2023; 12pm to 1:30pm; Meet at the Front of Albertus Hall
Targeting invasive plant species on our campus is one major component and goal of the AQ Urban Forest Initiative. At this event, volunteers will learn how to identify invasive species and assist in removal efforts. We typically target Buckthorn, an invasive species that is very common on our campus (especially in the woods). Buckthorn is a shrub that grows in the understory of the forest. It has an advantage over native plants because it leafs out early in the spring and lasts later into the fall, giving it a longer growing season. Buckthorn also produces dense clusters of leaves and changes the pH of the soil, making it difficult for native plants to survive. Its berries have very little nutritional value, and they can actually have a diuretic effect on birds, which can sometimes be fatal and helps spread seeds far and wide. Organizers will provide all necessary supplies, but all volunteers must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes or work boots. Volunteers will meet in front of Albertus Hall and we will travel to the work area from there. RSVP requested but not required to eimerjes@aquinas.edu.

Plant Your Future: A Class Tree Planting Event
October 12, 2023; 12:30pm to 1:30pm; Location: Meet at the Albertus Hall Parking Lot
“The one who plants trees, knowing that he or she will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” (Rabindranath Tagore) At Aquinas College, we believe higher education is about more than completing a degree. It’s about fostering a community of well-rounded individuals committed to making a positive impact on the world. At the “Plant Your Future” event, all first-year students are invited to participate in the planting of several trees that will be forever commemorated with a “Class of 2027” plaque. Because Aquinas is attempting to reach the goal of having all trees native to Michigan on campus, the selected tree species (The Balsam Fir) will be a Michigan-native species that we are currently missing. At the event, hear from campus leaders about this exciting program, watch as a campus friar delivers a blessing over the trees, and participate in or observe the class tree planting. This class tree is among the first of many contributions you will make to our AQ Community during your time as an AQ Saint. All staff, faculty, and students are invited to attend, with a special invite to the Class of 2027! Hot beverages will be provided. #Beasustainablesaint

Green Tea Talk: The History of Coldbrook Creek
November 30, 2023; 12pm to 1pm; Albertus Hall, Rm 127
Coldbrook Creek was once a visibly vital feature of the Grand Rapids area landscape, winding its way from Reeds Lake to the Grand River. Native Americans almost certainly recognized what it had to offer and shortly after European settlement, it became an integral part of the growing city’s infrastructure. Coldbrook Creek also played a role in the daily lives of neighborhood residents. Over the decades, though, the creek slowly faded from view as a large percentage of it was incrementally diverted into underground culverts for various reasons. Though mostly hidden now, Coldbrook Creek continues to play a role in the unfolding history of the Grand Rapids area and is worth a closer look.

About the Presenters: Mary Lewandoski is a retired environmental educator with an extensive history of working with students on watershed projects. She also worked in resolving groundwater issues with the Michigan DEQ. Her interest in the environment led her to form the Coldbrook Creek Community, which she co-chairs with her husband Peter. Peter Lewandoski is a retired librarian who taught information literacy skills to both students and the public. He and his wife Mary have lived in the Coldbrook Creek watershed for decades.

Campus Race to Zero Waste
January 29 - March 24, 2024
The Campus Race to Zero Waste is a friendly national competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an eight-week period in February and March, colleges report recycling, composting, and trash weights to be ranked against participating colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. For the second year in a row, Aquinas finished 7th in the Diversion category and 2nd in the Food Organics Category (smaller campus division) in 2023. 

Tip the Scale Waste Competition
January 29 – February 25, 2024
The Tip the Scale Waste Competition is a friendly competition of all buildings on campus. Aquinas faculty, staff, and students are fighting to prove that their building is THE zero waste champion to beat! There is both a student category and a faculty/staff category, with the champion in each category winning the traveling sustainability trophy. Each participating building is working to beat its average (cumulative) diversion rate to date, earning a point each week that the percentage is beaten. The building with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins!! In the event of a tie, the building with the highest percent change receives preference.

Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don’t Ditch It
January 30, 2024; 12pm to 1:30pm; Wege Ballroom
Join the Center for Sustainability and the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center at our "Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don't Ditch it!” event. Skilled community members from AQ and beyond will be onsite to help students, staff, and faculty fix damaged clothing items. The event will highlight and teach basic apparel repair skills such as simple sewing, hemming, patching, and fixing buttons. Breathe life into your still-usable apparel, avoid the landfill, and promote reuse and sustainability. Stitch it, Don't Ditch it, Saints!

"We All Live Here" Service Day
April 18, 2024; Wege Mall
In celebration of Earth Day, Arbor Day and the Dominican pillars of community and service, the Aquinas College Infrastructure Sustainability Committee is proud to sponsor “We All Live Here.” Please join us in a day of service dedicated to the care of our common home on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Crews of Aquinas staff, faculty, students, and community members will complete projects at Aquinas to honor our beautiful campus. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, planting trees, and working in the community garden. All projects will be outside, so please dress for the weather. Register here. (Link will open on 3/18.)
- Shift 1: 10:15am to 11:45am, with registration from 9:45am to 10:15am
- Shift 2: 12:15pm to 1:45pm, with registration from 11:45am to 12:15pm

Off-Campus Events

AASHE 2023 Conference and Expo >Link
October 29 – 31, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts 
After three years of successfully hosting a virtual conference, we invite you to experience the highly anticipated AASHE 2023 Conference & Expo in Boston, Massachusetts, from October 29-31, 2023! Join us for a transformative journey as we unveil a trailblazing program to empower higher education sustainability professionals. Engage in this immersive learning experience while gaining innovative strategies to transform your institution effectively. Discover key opportunities, accelerate sustainability efforts, and forge connections with like-minded leaders. Register now to secure your spot and shape the future of sustainability. The conference will debut a new program tailored to provide higher education sustainability change-makers with an immersive learning experience that provides new ways of thinking and strategies to transform their institutions more effectively. We’ll also delve into key opportunities and leverage points for advancing sustainability efforts. And, since we’ll be in person, there’ll be abundant opportunities to network and forge deeper connections with fellow sustainability leaders.


Sustainability News

Midyear Update: Zero-Waste (January 2023)

Is Aquinas College a zero-waste campus? Quick answer: no. But we are making great strides toward that goal. Sustainability is integral to Aquinas, strengthening our Dominican and Catholic traditions of being good stewards of God’s gifts. The zero waste program (minimizing and sorting waste) is a tangible way for our community to practice sustainability. And based on 2022 data, AQ’s zero waste initiative is ranked 16th in the nation! Because we are halfway through the academic year (and the zero waste initiative just celebrated its 10th year), it’s time to update the campus on our progress.

The current (average since July 1, 2022) diversion rate for the campus is 59.4%, meaning we are diverting 59.4% of waste from landfills. Last year at this time, we had a 58.6% diversion rate. While our waste diversion rate has slightly increased this year, we are seeing much lower waste diversion rates since Covid started. (For example, Aquinas boasted a 70.5% waste diversion rate in 2019.)

In comparing Fall 2022 to Fall 2021, we have much to celebrate. Many campus buildings have improved zero waste performance, including all classroom spaces, Brookby, several campus apartments, and Regina Hall. Regina Hall improved its diversion rate from 24.8% to 33.7%! Fr. Bartolome increased from 16.5% to 34.9%. However, we have some hard work ahead of us. Many campus buildings have falling waste diversion rates, such as the Wege Student Center (non-dining), St. Martin de Porres Hall, Sturrus/Alksnis, Campus Safety, Meijer Hall, and the Cook Carriage House. At the end of this memo, you will find the current performance of each of our campus buildings.

We need your help to continue to move the needle toward zero waste. Waste is significant this spring, as Aquinas will compete in the national Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition from Jan. 30 to Mar. 26. This competition gives us our national rankings (16th last year). Please continue to model sustainable behavior by sorting waste and encouraging students and peers to do the same. A simple reminder to a student can encourage new (sustainable) habits.

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do to support zero waste. With your help, we will make Aquinas zero waste (and become the first college in the nation to reach that goal)! As a reminder, weekly zero waste progress by building can always be viewed on the Sustainability Initiative website here: https://www.aquinas.edu/campus-wide-zero-waste-data. You are also welcome to contact Jessica Eimer Bowen at eimerjes@aquinas.edu for more information on your building or to schedule a zero-waste training/refresher. Go, Saints!

Building name, followed by the waste diversion rate for Fall 2022 and Fall 2021.

  • Academic Building- 68.5%; 58.5%
  • Albertus Hall- 62.0%; 56.6%
  • Art & Music Center- 48.9%; 36.0%
  • Jarecki-Lacks Center- 64.0%; 50.3%
  • Sturrus & Alksnis- 47.1%; 48.6%
  • Browne Center- 74.4%; 57.3%
  • Campus Safety Office- 72.7%; 80.4%
  • Cook Carriage House- 69.4%; 75.7%
  • Donnelly Center- 67.5%; 57.3%
  • Flannery Hall- 85.0%; 78.3%
  • Holmdene- 77.0%; 69.1%
  • Our Lady Seat of Wisdom- 78.5%; 82.9%
  • Performing Arts Center- 30.5%; 34.6%
  • Wege Student Center (non-dining)- 39.9%; 58.3%
  • Fr. Bartolome Hall (B)- 34.9%; 16.5%
  • Brookby Estate- 60.6%; 10.4%
  • Eberhard Hall (A)- 25.8%; 26.7%
  • M. Euphrasia Hall- 34.4%; 9.9%
  • Hruby Hall- 76.0%; 78.7%
  • Knape Hall- 26.4%; 11.8%
  • Meijer Hall- 26.3%; 52.5%
  • Regina Hall- 33.7%; 24.8%
  • St. Catherine Hall (C)- 39.0%; 19.1%
  • St. Joseph Hall- 21.0%; 21.0%
  • St. Martin Hall (D)- 26.4%; 33.1%
  • St. Rose Hall (E)- 37.9%; 26.1%
  • Willowbrook Hall- 82.3%; 77.8%
  • Dining Services- 86.7%; 88.0%

Fall 2022: July 1, 2022- December 4, 2022
Fall 2021: July 1, 2021 – December 5, 2021

Aquinas College is awarded a Bronze BFU designation
In Fall 2022, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Aquinas College with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFUSM) award once again. Aquinas has held this recognition since 2015. In the most recent recognition year, Aquinas is one of 9 Michigan schools to receive this designation. Aquinas joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States that are transforming their campuses and the communities around them. Looking ahead, Aquinas will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly.

2022 AQ "Tree of the Year"
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center hosted the 2nd annual AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition in October 2022. Big or small, any tree can be the winner! This competition celebrates what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs...the trees. After giving the campus an opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite tree, we would like to announce the winning tree which will forever be commemorated with a 2022 "Tree of the Year" plaque. The 2022 Tree of the Year is the Black Walnut, a Michigan native species submitted by Kacey C. Please join me in congratulating Kacey. The top 3 tree submissions were as follows: Black Walnut between CCH and Regina. Shumard Oak in front of St. Joe's. Red Oak at the start of the walk to St.  Joe's from Physical Plant.

2022 Friar's Challenge is a Success! 
The final results of the Friar's Challenge are in.....NO ONE BEAT THE CAMPUS FRIARS IN WILLOWBROOK! While they remain the zero waste "building to beat," we would like to congratulate Hruby Hall on coming the closest to Willowbrook's waste diversion rate. It was a very tight race! Willowbrook finished with a 74.2% diversion rate and Hruby Hall finished with a 73.7% diversion rate. Please congratulate Hruby Hall residents on a job well done. Hruby Hall will hold the traveling sustainability trophy and are invited to a barbeque with the friars. Thank you all for your hard work and participation. We would also like to congratulate RA Ethan B. on winning the RA Sustainability Education Challenge! He designed a beautiful bulletin board focused on zero waste sorting best practices. 

2021 AQ Campus Race to Zero Waste Winners
Our on-campus waste competition has come to a close and we have our winners! The full rankings can be found here. The Faculty/Staff Category winner is ... the Cook Carriage House! Congratulations to Zero Waste Advocates Mallory Miller, Ramil Collier, and all of the occupants of CCH on this victory! CCH finished the competition with four points out of a possible four points (plus a 74% diversion rate!) and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy. The Student Category winner is ... Hruby Hall, with four points out of a possible four points (and an 80% diversion rate). Congratulations to all the students at Hruby Hall on this accomplishment. You will be the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. We also like to recognize the building with the highest diversion rate during the AQ Race to Zero Waste. Campus Safety finished the competition with an impressive 84% diversion rate. You all are rock stars!

Aquinas College recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index lists Aquinas College as one of the top performers in the area of waste, a category that assesses waste minimization and reduction construction, waste diversion and hazardous waste management. Aquinas is the only Michigan school to be listed as a top performer in any of the index’s 17 categories. Aquinas achieved a third-place ranking in the waste category by earning 80.1%, nearly 35 percentage points above the 45.3% average score for all institutions in the category.

Aquinas featured in The Princeton Review 2021 guide to green colleges
The Princeton Review listed Aquinas College as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges in its Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. This is the 10th time the Aquinas has made the list. The guide notes the broad range of sustainability activities at Aquinas, from its seven LEED-certified buildings and one LEED-registered building to its local food program with dining services, integration of sustainability issues into the academic curriculum, efficient and innovative changes in its physical infrastructure and campus-wide zero-waste program. Released in October, the Guide to Green Colleges profiles institutions based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges. The publication’s editors analyze more than 25 data points in choosing the final 416 schools for the guide. Aquinas scored a 98 out of 99 in the publication’s Green Rating, a comprehensive measure of performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.

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